"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."

BE A FREEMASON

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Masonic Sightseeing in Lafayette, Indiana with Dwight L. Smith Lodge of Research



by Christopher Hodapp

On Saturday, the Dwight L. Smith Lodge of Research spent the day exploring Masonic sites around Lafayette, Indiana: the Tippecanoe Battlefield where the Grand Lodge placed a historical marker in 1966; the beautiful Battle Ground Lodge (which has just been restored following a wintertime flood from the roof); and the one of a kind J. H. Rathbone Museum of fraternal order ephemera from the Golden Age of fraternalism.


Masonic marker memorializing the death of Kentucky Grand Master Joseph Hamilton Daveiss
and other Masons at the Tippecanoe Battlefield Park.


While at the park, we had the opportunity to tour the on-site museum. We had 27 Masons and guests in attendance, and the weather was absolutely perfect.

Next was a visit to the Masonic hall of Battle Ground Lodge 313.




WB Dave Hosler was our host for the day and gave a presentation at Battle Ground Lodge about a brother elected as Master of the lodge at age 24 who survived World War I, but tragically died in the flu pandemic of 1918 before he could be installed.





The lodge's entry features artwork by Indiana Masonic 
artist Steven McKim, originally a member of Octagon Lodge, 
which subsequently merged with Battle Ground lodge.

Our third stop for the day was at the J.H. Rathbone Museum. Located in a former Knights of Pythias meeting hall in Lafayette, the museum is one of the largest collections of costumes, regalia, artwork, medals, ephemera and rituals from literally hundreds of fraternal groups that flourished throughout the U.S. between the Civil War and the 1930s. Curator Ken Moder, members of the museum's board, and other local volunteers have been sorting and organizing in recent years, and there were several in our group who had been unaware of just how extensive the collection really is.



Joining us for the day was Heather Calloway, her husband Todd, and their son, Simon. Heather worked for many years at the Scottish Rite SJ House of the Temple in Washington DC, and she’s now teaching at IU in Bloomington in the Museum Studies department. A fascinating project is getting underway in Bloomington which will be of great interest to Masons and others interested in the subject of fraternal organizations, and Heather is spearheading it. News will be forthcoming.

My deepest thanks to WB Dave Hosler for handling the day’s arrangements and Ken Moder for opening the Museum for us. But I especially want to thank everyone who attended. The COVID pandemic and shutdowns hurled a large monkey wrench into our lodge plans over the last 14 months, and I was happy we were able to make this work out just before our Masonic year ends in mid-May. The consensus among everyone Saturday afternoon was that we should have other similar events like this in the coming years.

The Dwight L. Smith Lodge of Research operates as a lodge under dispensation at the will and pleasure of the Grand Master, so we will have new appointed officers later this month. It has been my honor and pleasure to serve as Master of our research lodge over the last two years, and I thank all of our officers and members for their support.

For more information about the lodge, including membership or affiliation, visit our website at http://dlslodgeofresearch.net

Photos: Dave Hosler, Heather Calloway, Chris Hodapp

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Calling All Wishful Masters - All Aboard For the Clandyland Express!

by Christopher Hodapp

Well, golly! The Clandyland Express has chugged into Indianapolis! There's apparently a brand, spankin' new "Masonic lodge" right here in my own hometown! 

So-called.

The so-called "Sovereign Grand Lodge of Universal Supreme Council Of The 33rd And Last Degree, Incorporated,"  so called, has just issued a so-called "charter" establishing the so-called "T. L'Overture Lodge No. 5." 



That 'incorporated' sure makes it official! (I guess that makes sense to name an Indiana lodge after Toussaint L'Overture, the leader of the Haitian Revolution in the late 1700s, since this document is claiming that the SGLofUSC33aLD, Inc. is a part of the so-called "Haitian Federation of Masons AF & AM").

Click the image to enlarge it and get the full effect of this so-called "charter." It empowers the "lodge" to hold "Regular and Special Communications at will, when called by the Wishful Master..."

Hey, spellcheck typos happen to the best of us, right?

Except that it goes on, "[T]he Wishful Master empowered to discipline the craft and settle disputes among the members and all Masons or non-affiliated brethren within its jurisdiction..."

It's signed with three very florid signatures, including the Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander (!) who included his rank "33°/96" which implies there are really 96 degrees in their system, which is curious when they call themselves "Sovereign Grand Lodge of Universal Supreme Council Of The 33rd And Last Degree."

Oh, details, details.

One wonders if their officers process into lodge while singing 'When You Wish Upon A Star?'

If you're a legitimately regular Master Mason in the U.S. in a recognized jurisdiction, your ritual likely exhorted you to have no 'Masonic intercourse' with clandestine Masons. Clandestine groups like this are exactly what your ritual was talking about.

People who join 'Masonic' lodges under the jurisdictions that are considered irregular, clandestine, bogus and unrecognized by the principal grand lodge in a state (or country) will not be allowed to visit and interact with the overwhelming majority of the Masonic world, outside of their own isolated group. That's just truth in advertising, and people should understand what they are joining, and what they are not. Unfortunately, people tend to join organizations that their friends, family or co-workers do, and bogus groups are somewhat self-perpetuating. They are often fueled by new public awareness of Freemasonry from media sources.

Masonic regularity and recognition are issues that make outsiders' eyes glaze over, but I think ALL regular and overwhelmingly recognized grand lodges need to address the issue on their public material. It would help to put a stop to - or at least slow down - the practice, and guide potential new members to the more widely welcoming world of Masonry.

There are hundreds of small 'grand lodges' or independent lodges at work, and many of them are listed by the Prince Hall research group, the Phylaxis Society. The Phylaxis Society's Commission on Bogus Masonic Practices listing was at one time quite exhaustive, but the new ones multiply faster than bunnies in a hutch. New ones pop up every day, and the Phylaxis site is woefully out of date at this point. While these phony groups can be found all over, they can be especially prolific in black communities. As is stated on the Phylaxis site, "There are more African American Bogus Grand Lodges in the United States than there are Legitimate Grand Lodges around the World." Sadly, opportunists see a chance to cash in on an ancient fraternity's history and reputation, and thus the problem continues. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Midwest Conference on Masonic Education 2021 Presentations Online


by Christopher Hodapp


The Midwest Conference on Masonic Education didn't take place last year because of the COVID pandemic shutdowns. The 2021 event last weekend was originally to be held in Illinois, but out of an abundance of caution, organizers chose to make it a virtual conference.

Consequently, several presentations this year were made via video, and those programs are now posted online. 

They include:
  • Personalizing Freemasonry - Chad Kopenski
  • Truth - Spencer Hamaan
  • Facilitating Dialogue: Introduction to Guided Discussion - Chuck Dunning
  • Panel discussions
Also, a pair of papers from Richard Lacoursiere are online:
  • Whither Are You Traveling? 
  • Leaders Eat Last

The 2022 Conference will held April 29 - May 1, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Video presentations from previous years can be found on the MCME YouTube channel HERE.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Breaking: S. Carolina PGM Mike Smith Expulsion Overturned; Lodges Restored


by Christopher Hodapp

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED Friday, April 23, 2021, 11:00p.m.

Messages from Day One of the annual session of the Grand Lodge A.F.M. of South Carolina are reporting that the assembled voting members have overwhelmingly overturned the January expulsion of Past Grand Master Michael D. Smith, and restored his Masonic record. 

Additionally, the two lodges that had their charters revoked by GM Disher – Union-Kilwinning Lodge No. 4 and Landrum Lodge No. 278 – have had their charters restored, with the recommendation that outstanding charges against them be dropped. 

It appears that South Carolina Masons are collectively attempting to erase the battles and dramas of the last year and let wisdom prevail. Grand officer elections take place on Friday.

UPDATE FRIDAY:

Day 2: Grand officer nominations and elections were held Friday morning. The voting members of the Grand Lodge A.F.M. of South Carolina broke with tradition and elected a respected Past Grand Master to lead their fraternity, instead of advancing last year's slate of officers forward. 

Last year's Deputy Grand Master, RW O. Bruce Smith, III, was nominated and expected to advance to GM in their normally progressive line. But in an overwhelming vote of repudiation (described as "over 500 to just over 100"), the Grand Lodge nominated and elected MW Ronald C. Mitchum, who previously served as Grand Master in 2005-2007, to preside in the Grand East for 2021-22 (and likely 2023). They also rejected the expected nominee for Junior Grand Warden, instead electing A. C. Flora IV to the position.

South Carolina Grand Master Ronald C. Mitchum
(2005-07, 2021-)

The newly elected 2021-22 Grand Lodge officers are:
MWB Ronald C. Mitchum - Grand Master
RWB Steven D Hames - Deputy Grand Master
RWB Thomas Watson - Senior Grand Warden
RWB A. C. Flora IV - Junior Grand Warden
MWB Jack A. Marler, PGM - Grand Treasurer
MWB Gerald L. Carver, PGM - Grand Secretary
RWB A. Robert Nix - Grand Chaplain

It's always difficult to dispassionately report events I haven't witnessed for myself, but one final incident was reported at the conclusion of Friday's meeting that I hope is not a fabrication. The story goes that now-Past Grand Master Cal Disher rose to adjourn the meeting. As he finished, he declared, 'I hope you're all happy with your decisions,' and smacked his gavel so hard on the podium that its handle snapped in two. 

There is now a discussion to treat the broken gavel as a historical object, preserve it, and present it each year to each incoming Grand Master as a cautionary symbol.

It's a shame that schools don't teach Latin any more. When it came to commentaries on the use or abuse of power and authority, the Romans sure knew their potatoes.

"Sic transit gloria mundi."

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

'The Plot Thickens' in the GL of South Carolina as Annual Meeting Looms


by Christopher Hodapp

UPDATE: This story has been updated on April 21, 2021. The original story incorrectly stated that GM Disher declared that PGM Mike Smith's reinstatement by the Appeals & Grievances Committee would make the Grand Lodge "liable for a lawsuit." This remark was actually made by PGM Jay Adam Pearson. My apologies for the error.

Over the last week, several emails have been making the rounds out of the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of South Carolina concerning the January trial and expulsion of Past Grand Master Michael D. Smith. As reported here in February, Smith was expelled from the fraternity by current South Carolina Grand Master Walter C. "Cal" Disher II for violating his edict forbidding Masonic meetings conducted by Internet teleconferencing software, like Zoom. The charges brought against Smith were for authorizing Zoom meetings for the Scottish Rite Valleys throughout the state in his role as their SGIG for the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction. 

Now, the plot, as they say in cheap potboilers, thickens. The Grand Lodge of South Carolina will be holding its annual communication this week on April 22nd and 23rd. In the run-up to that session, South Carolina's Jurisprudence and Appeals & Grievances committees both convened last week to accomplish the usual preliminary business that commonly takes place just before Masonic grand sessions nearly everywhere.

It is the Jurisprudence Committee's job to look over the actions of the sitting Grand Master taken during his term of office to determine if he was correct in his decisions and activities, or if he violated any of the rules of their constitution (the South Carolina Ahimon Rezon). Typically, a grand master provides a lengthy report that outlines all of his activities since taking office in the written form of a formal address (or oration). And then the various committees weigh in on the GM's actions and report whether or not he violated any of their constitution. 

Because of the COVID pandemic shut downs last year, GM Disher was compelled by state health laws and an abundance of caution for his more elderly and at-risk members to cancel their annual session in 2020, and all previously elected Grand Lodge officers would stay in their positions for another year. So GM Disher's address was quite lengthy after two years.

(South Carolina grand masters traditionally serve for two one-year terms. Disher was elected GM in 2019, so April 2020 through April 2021 was to have been his second term anyway, if tradition had been followed. With the annual meeting canceled, his second year in the job was a foregone conclusion, as in so many other U.S. jurisdictions this past year. Like it or not, grand lodges must adhere to the rules set down by federal, state and local governments. So I can't really work up support for those alleging anywhere that their grand masters usurped power last year by canceling annual meetings.)

2019-2021 Grand Master Walter C. 'Cal' Disher II

GM Disher presented his whopping 42-page official address to the Jurisprudence Committee last week for review. On Thursday in a 6-3 decision, six Past Grand Masters on the Jurisprudence Committee ruled that the trial of PGM Mike Smith had been unfair, and rejected the portion of Disher's address dealing with Smith's guilty verdict and expulsion. In an anonymous email account of the vote sent to me that was attempting to support and justify the GM's actions, by failing to agree with his decision and actions, those six members of the Committee are themselves now guilty of a Masonic offense and may themselves face charges.

Then, in what was a second repudiation of GM Disher, on Friday, the Appeals & Grievances Committee reportedly ruled in an initial 4-2 decision that misconduct had taken place during the trial of PGM Smith, that the verdict should be nullified, and that Smith should be reinstated. According to multiple sources, PGM Jay Adam Pearson (who was part of the trial commission for Smith's expulsion) chastised the committee, angrily declared that, if Smith was reinstated by this decision, the Grand Lodge would be "liable for a lawsuit," and demanded the Committee re-vote. The result of that second vote was to uphold Disher's actions and the results of the trial. And because of the furor caused in the state by the initial online reporting of Smith's trial and expulsion, the result of the Committee's vote was not to be leaked ahead of time until it is presented on the floor of the annual meeting.

Obviously, that didn't work out so well. Gag rules rarely do.

There are still as-yet unanswered allegations that the arresting of Landrum Lodge charter (PGM Smith's mother lodge in which his son was Junior Warden) by GM Disher was also improper. It's probable that it too will be addressed in the Jurisprudence Committee's official report.

I've been sent conflicting information about these meetings and decisions, and there's a Rashomon-like feel to the widely differing descriptions of trials, conversations, votes, and (naturally) personalities involved. The unsettling image that emerges is an enormous Jenga tower falling to pieces, as charges, counter charges,  longtime friendships, personal allegiances, and a seemingly endless string of more threats of suspensions and expulsions all unfold. In one stack of material, there are numerous statements, angrily tarring numerous longtime Masons with more allegations of 'un-Masonic conduct' for failing to rubber stamp the GM's decisions. 'They voted the wrong way too, and THAT'S un-Masonic! We'll have THEM up on charges next!' is the theme that runs throughout. 

There's an unfortunate aura of the Caine Mutiny trial scene in much of this. And that's the material that is supposed to be making the case FOR the Grand Master. 

The annual session will take place this coming Thursday and Friday, and the GM has placed limits on how many may attend – again due to COVID restrictions. Next in line for election as the new Grand Master is current Deputy Grand Master, O.B. Smith, but there are rumors that one or more other candidates for GM may be nominated from the floor. And the assembled members of the Grand Lodge of South Carolina must also vote to affirm or deny the Jurisprudence and Appeals & Grievances committee reports. If the result of those votes reverse the actions of GM Disher, it's entirely possible that PGM Mike Smith may be reinstated by their action. 

Of course, the next question on the minds of many South Carolina Masons is, will the next elected GM (whoever it may be) allow the waters to calm and the Craft in his state to heal? Or will he follow in the footsteps of his predecessor and keep pursuing the example of more suspensions, expulsions and charter yanking in an attempt to enforce the 'authority and dignity' of the office by wrecking the Masonic careers of brethren who have devoted so much to the fraternity for so long? "Because I said so" is a lousy motivator for a voluntary organization that depends on the work and good will of its devoted members.

Would that there was a respected, gray-headed sage in South Carolina who could stand up on the floor of the annual meeting next week and make some calming and uniting statement or entreaty to cool the anger on all sides, set aside the trial decisions and expulsions, and convince the room to do what it takes to restore harmony without destroying Masonic careers. But I doubt that will happen, and more’s the pity. I fear this entire melodrama may result in the loss of far too many members resigning in disgust. And that’s the ultimate tragedy of this mess.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Dedication of Masonic Marker April 24th: Author Dwight L. Smith



by Christopher Hodapp

Next Saturday, April 24th, 2021, Grand Master Kenneth Roy, Jr. and the officers of the Grand Lodge F&AM of Indiana will dedicate a new Masonic historical marker in memory of Indiana Past Grand Master and Past Grand Secretary, Dwight L. Smith.

The dedication of the new marker will be held on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. at Salem Lodge No. 21, located at 506 West Poplar Street in Salem, Indiana. This will be the first Masonic historical marker erected officially by the Grand Lodge since 1978.


Dwight Smith was born in Pennville, Indiana in 1909, and he was a member of Salem Lodge No. 21 for 59 years. For many years, he also served as the local editor for Salem’s hometown newspaper, the Salem Republican-Leader.

Dwight Smith passed away in 1993 and was internationally honored as an author and leader whose influence was felt throughout the Masonic fraternity. Dwight served as the Grand Secretary for 32 years, and editor of the Indiana Freemason Magazine officially or unofficially from 1945 until 1991. He was an author of books, hundreds of articles, and Masonic plays. Throughout his career, he was honored with countless awards all over the world. Indiana Masons today largely know him for writing 'Goodly Heritage,' a history of Indiana Freemasonry, in 1968. His booklets, 'Why This Confusion in the Temple?' and 'Whither Are We Traveling?' were published in the early 1960s, and continue to inspire and influence Masons all over the world.

The marker erected to Dwight Smith will be the second such Masonic marker placed by the Grand Lodge in historic Salem, Indiana. Several hundred feet away in Salem’s Crown Hill Cemetery, the Grand Lodge dedicated a plaque to the memory of John Hay Farnham. He served as one of our earliest Grand Lecturers in 1820-21, and as Junior grand Warden in 1821-22. 

Farnham was a passionate campaigner for the new State of Indiana to open public schools at a time when just one out of every eight Hoosier children were able to read. Beginning in 1826, he battled for the cause of public education for the rest of his life. Farnham was also the foundering secretary of the Indiana Historical Society in 1830. Salem’s historic Pioneer Village museum is named after him - the John Hay Farnham Historical Center.

The Farnham marker was first erected in 1972, and was recently restored by local Masons in Salem. It will be re-dedicated by the Grand Lodge at Saturday's event.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Suspected Vancouver Arsonist Faces More Charges in Masonic Hall Fires

Charred remains of the Masonic Temple in Lynn Valley in 
North Vancouver, B.C., Tuesday, March 30, 2021. 
(Photo: Jonathan Hayward / THE CANADIAN PRESS)


by Christopher Hodapp


British Columbia prosecutors have filed additional charges in connection with the burning of three metropolitan Vancouver Masonic halls last week. The principal suspect, 42-year-old Benjamin Orion Carlson Kohlman, was charged the day after his arrest with three offenses connected with a fire set at the Park Masonic Hall in northeastern Vancouver. He was charged with arson, assault of a peace officer, and failing to stop for a peace officer. 

The new, additional charges filed today against Kohlman are connected with the two earlier fires set that same morning. According to Global News Service, he was charged with two more counts of arson and three additional counts of breaking and entering and committing arson.

The Park Masonic Hall was the last of three Masonic lodges that were set ablaze last Tuesday morning over a 45-minute period in the northern suburbs of Vancouver. Kohlman was spotted carrying a gasoline can and leaving the scene of the Park temple just as a fire was spotted burning near its entrance. An off-duty police officer attempted to take him into custody, but Kohlman knocked the officer down and sped away. He was arrested shortly after that incident.

The three targeted lodges were Lynn Valley Lodge Hall, Lonsdale Masonic Temple (also known as the North Vancouver Masonic centre), and Park Masonic Hall. The 110-year-old Lonsdale building was a total loss and had to be demolished after fire crews extinguished the flames.


See also: 

• March 30 - Three Vancouver Masonic Halls Torched By Arsonist

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Philadelphia Masonic Temple Modeled at Legoland


by Christopher Hodapp

The master builders at Legoland Discovery Center in Plymouth Meeting, PA have made a scale model of the beautiful and historic Philadelphia Masonic Temple. In the video, builder Mike Nieves says the Temple has some 16,000 pieces and took 150 hours to construct. Watch the video above, or click HERE.

Lodge Presents Charges Against South Carolina Grand Master and Officers


by Christopher Hodapp

It was almost 160 years ago to the day, on April 12, 1861, when the South Carolina militia opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina and kicked off the Civil War, the bloodiest war in U.S. history. I was thinking of that today as I went through all this material.

Union-Kilwinning Lodge No. 4 is the oldest continuously operating Masonic lodge in South Carolina. Yesterday, Past Master William 'Billy' Wall, who serves as Secretary of Union-Kilwinning Lodge, sent a 10-page packet of material detailing charges his lodge is making alleging un-Masonic conduct against current Grand Master Cal M. Disher, Deputy Grand Master O. Bruce Smith, and District Deputy Grand Master Steve Hiott.

Click image to enlarge

To get the fullest possible understanding of the situation, you need to start with the Union-Kilwinning webpage and a blog entry titled, "The First Encounter." (CLICK HERE) That long entry details events in November and December last year when the lodge attempted to hold its meetings and officer elections.

In October, GM Disher issued new guidelines detailing what lodges needed to do in order to restart stated meetings under COVID restrictions: as few members as constitutionally allowed; masks and social distancing; no electronic communication... all the standard stuff.  Apparently, all hell broke out at the December meeting of Union Kilwinning and their elections when "three ruffians" showed up in succession in the course of the evening: Steve Hiott, District Deputy Grand Master, O. Bruce Smith, Deputy Grand Master, and the Grand Master himself, Cal M. Disher. Disher revoked their charter and reportedly ordered an arrest warrant issued by the sheriff's office, accusing the lodge of stealing its own property.

(Interestingly, one curious aspect of the story is that neither the DGM nor the GM identified themselves, and were wearing their COVID masks when they angrily demanded entry and ordered all activity to cease. Face it - with these masks all of us have to wear, we all look like we're dressed for a liquor store holdup, and muffled conversations sound like a hostage phone call.)

The material is much too detailed and complex for me to properly encapsulate it here, so I encourage you to read "The First Encounter" for yourself. Part of this fight turns on the minimum number of members required to open a MM lodge. South Carolina's rules and adopted 'Landmarks' are among the oldest in the United States, and they are sometimes quite different from the way the majority of grand lodges operate. According to Secretary Walls' account, South Carolina requires only six attending, whereas the majority of the U.S. requires seven. According to the allegations, GM Disher improperly issued an edict late in the year declaring the minimum must be seven. 

The lodge is also alleging that the Grand Master did not have the authority to cancel the annual meeting and remain in office beyond his term, and that he has issued multiple edicts that violate their Ahimon Rezon book of constitutions.

And then there are the assault and battery charges...

The information packet sent to all of the lodges in South Carolina was posted online HERE. The lodge has taken their case to the voting members before their scheduled communication in April. That is also when they are expecting their Masonic trial to be held. 

Not to be easily thwarted, the Grand Secretary for South Carolina pronounced that the letter and its contents may NOT be read in open lodge, and has further demanded that every single lodge pack up their letter and mail it directly to him. Right.

Because, you know, cell phones, Xeroxes, computer copies, scanners, printers, and other forms of duplicating and sharing documents don't exist in South Carolina. One could just faintly hear the collective laughter of SC secretaries here, from five states away.

I wish the brethren of Union-Killwinning lots of luck going forward, but suspect this won't end well. Their blog post "Why Cal Disher is the Past Grand Master, and the GL is irregular" is a curious logic thread to attempt to follow. Their reasoning is that, because Cal Disher cancelled 2020's annual meeting, he violated their constitution. At the close of the meeting, the GM and all GL officers must renew their oath of office (SC GMs generally serve two years). That wasn't done, because no meeting. According to the post:

Ahiman Rezon, Article 38. (~Pg. 308) reads "In the absence of the Grand Master from the Grand Lodge, the Chair SHALL (there is that word again) be taken by the Deputy Grand Master; in his absence by the Grand Wardens, in order of priority of rank; and in the absence of all these officers, by the Master of the oldest Lodge on the registry of the Jurisdiction." There is also a rule in the Ahiman Rezon, Chapter IV Rule 4. (~Pg.196), which reads "When the Grand Master is absent from the Grand Lodge, the chair SHALL be taken by the Deputy. If both are absent, the Senior Grand Warden, or if he be likewise absent, the Junior Grand Warden MUST take the chair. If all these offices are absent, the duties of the Grand Lodge WILL (another word meaning required) devolve upon the Master of the OLDEST LODGE present. Vacancies in the other chairs are to be supplied by the Masters of Lodges, according to seniority."
And without just coming out and saying it, since their lodge is the oldest established, continuously operating lodge in the state, the post is essentially stating their own Worshipful Master is the de facto Grand Master for South Carolina because of this rule, which makes all of Cal Disher's actions since last April null and void. I don't enjoy being a soggy blanket in their time of tribulation, but this can't possibly go well. Especially since their charter's been revoked.

It's entirely possible that the 2021 annual meeting of South Carolina turns out like a Scottish mud wrestling match by the time it's all over, with everybody covered in filth but still yukking it up and hugging each other at the pub afterwards. Or it could turn out to be the equivalent of first shots fired on Fort Sumter, setting off a bloody, bitter war. 

Let's all hope it's the former instead of the latter.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Vancouver: Man Charged With Arson In Connection With Fires Set At Masonic Halls

The smoke from a burning Masonic hall casts a sickening pall
over the Vancouver skyline early Tuesday morning.
Photo from the LG Bridge by  Northvan_Dan on Twitter.



by Christopher Hodapp


The Global News website is reporting this afternoon that 42-year-old Benjamin Orion Carlson Kohlman has officially been charged with three offenses connected with a fire set at the Park Masonic Hall in northeastern Vancouver yesterday. He is charged with arson, assault of a peace officer, and failing to stop for a peace officer. The Park Masonic Hall was the last of three Masonic lodges that were deliberately set ablaze on Tuesday morning over a 45-minute period in the northern suburbs of Vancouver.

Further charges have not been yet been made concerning the first two blazes set at Lynn Valley and Lonsdale. In a statement, Vancouver Police said they expect to recommend further charges in those two prior cases. But based on clear video evidence of Kohlman at the scene of the third fire, police were able to quickly assign charges against him. He was arrested at about 10 a.m. a few miles away in the community of Burnaby after fighting an officer who had attempted to arrest him at the scene.

“The two arsons that occurred in North Vancouver yesterday are still under investigation,” says Constable Tania Visintin, VPD. “We anticipate recommending more charges to Crown counsel in the coming weeks related to the North Vancouver files.”

Kohlman remains in custody until his next court appearance.
Kohlman was recorded on video yesterday morning walking away from the Masonic hall as a fire began to burn in the background. He was seen carrying a jerry can used for transporting gasoline and walking toward his minivan. As two witnesses watched and recorded him, he was confronted by an off-duty police officer who attempted to arrest him. A fight ensued, he knocked the officer to the ground, and took off in his van. He was caught about 90 minutes later, based on the officer's description of Kohlman, his minivan, and license plate number.

Police still have not released any sort of information regarding Kohlman's motives. But reporter Lindsay William-Ross on the Vancouver Is Awesome website discovered and posted a Facebook boast from a 'Ben Kohlman' of Vancouver at 8:07 a.m. Tuesday, bragging that he had "just cleaned three Satanic club houses, and nobody could stop me." 


Provided this is authentically the suspect's Facebook account (always a question these days), his home page is loaded with conspiracy theories, mind control paranoia, and anti-Masonic sentiments.

"I'll bet the real Bible is hidden in the Vatican Library and the Bibles we see are corrupted," reads a post from early in the morning of March 30.

Kohlman also espouses anti-vaccination beliefs and theories.

"The radio said that they can vaccinate 33 000 per day. The 33 means it's a Freemason conspiracy. I bet those things are full of nano tech to spy on the whole world," reads a post from Jan. 8 of this year.

Several of his posts are about freemasonry. "2019 Documentary on Freemasonry has been scrubbed from the internet along with most of other truth videos," he shared in December 2020.

Also in December, he posted about distrusting the media: "We should just stop denying ourselves and admit that Satanic secret societies control the news and lie every day. I mean it's obvious throughout Hollywood and politics. The word government literally means mind controllers. If you would just stop lying to yourself to make yourself feel better that this isn't actually happening then maybe we could do something about it. It is literally your fault that your children will be enslaved by technology because of your denial. Soon all money will be controlled by embedded microchips and the ability to purchase will be controlled by the Mind controllers who gradually strip you of all rights including international travel and recreational activities after work. We are good for building infrastructure and maintenance to them, that is all. Shut the news off, take your head out and look around. This is not because the government, the Rothchilds, Rockefellers, royals, and the like care about our well being. I know this falls on deaf ears but I have to say it anyways just in case some have the ability to reason. (Facepalm) It's hopeless!"

No one has mentioned this out loud as far as I know, but the [alleged] arsonist struck first in the northwest part of Vancouver, then hit a second temple in the northwest, moved eastward for the third fire, and when he was finally found and arrested, he was driving in Burnaby, which happens to be the community in which the Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon offices are located. That may or may not be coincidental. The story is still young at this point. 

(For the sake of transparency, I have been the Grand Representative of Indiana to the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon for many years.)

Not just Masonic lodges were the victims of these fires. In a Facebook post last night, brother Mike Bayrak gave a thumbnail list of the many Masonic-related appendant groups now currently made homeless by the attacks. 

(Photo: Nick Procaylo)

The Lynn Valley Hall (photo) was home to three different lodges. The Lonsdale hall hosted three lodges, plus the York Rite Chapter, Council and Commandery, a York Rite Sovereign College, and an Order of the Eastern Star chapter. They had businesses renting their ground floor that are also destroyed. Their 110-year-old building is a total loss and was demolished after the fire was put out. 

Mike couldn't readily quickly recall specifics of who all met at the Park Lodge Hall, but did say that the only Prince Hall Masonic lodge in British Columbia also called it their home. There are two other lodges and a Royal Arch chapter there.

Buildings can be replaced, but priceless history, records, and objects cannot. This year, the Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon is currently celebrating its 150-year anniversary of its founding. This dreadful event casts a pall over that celebration now.

But more important to all of us is that Masons everywhere need to be vigilant when encountering rabid anti-Masons online, or in person. Certainly, 99.8% of conspiracists are cranks or at least harmless nutters who would never actually follow through on threats. But that .02% who truly believe we are a global crime syndicate that brainwashes and microchips the population as we prep for world takeover can turn into seriously dangerous people.


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Three Vancouver Masonic Halls Torched By Arsonist

The second of three Vancouver Masonic halls that sustained major 
damage from arson fires on Tuesday. (Photo: Carol Reimer)

by Christopher Hodapp

(UPDATED March 31, 2021 at 8AM: This story was corrected to note that the second building was the Lonsdale Masonic temple, home of Duke of Connaught Lodge 64.)

 42-year-old Vancouver man is in police custody tonight suspected of arson after fires were set at three different suburban Masonic halls around the city. Police have released few details about the suspect or his motive, but did say he has a "history of interactions with the police and no history of arson." The targeted lodges were Lynn Valley Lodge 122, Lonsdale Masonic Temple, home of Duke of Connaught Lodge 64, and Park Masonic Hall, home of Heritage Lodge 23.

Thankfully, no one was injured in any of the three fires.


North Vancouver RCMP responded to the first fire at the Lynn Valley lodge just before 6:45 a.m. when a neighbor saw the flames. The 97-year-old temple suffered much smoke and water damage, but wasn't completely destroyed.

Lonsdale Masonic Temple before the fire

Firefighters responded to the fire at the Lonsdale Temple 
(Photo: (North Vancouver RCMP)

Less than 15 minutes later, a second fire was reported a few miles away at the 110-year-old Lonsdale Masonic Temple. By the time the flames were extinguished hours later, that historic Masonic hall and the businesses that rented its ground floor were a total loss.

Park Masonic Hall after the fire was extinguished.
(Photo: Christian Amundson/CBC News)

While firefighters were responding to the first two blazes, a third report came at about 7:25 that the Park Masonic Hall had also just been torched. A third set of firefighters was dispatched to try to contain that blaze, and compared to the first two, the Park temple was the least damaged. While firefighters quickly put out the fire, lodge members say the stench of gasoline is everywhere throughout the building. The arsonist spread fuel throughout the two floors and in the lodge room itself. 

The suspect who was arrested was spotted leaving the building carrying a "jerry can" by an off-duty police officer who confronted him. As he attempted to take the suspect into custody, the man fought back, knocked the officer down, and managed to get away in his minivan. A bystander spotted the initial flames and was recording just as the fire started. That recording caught the attempted arrest, struggle and escape on video.  Armed with his description, police spotted the suspect again and arrested him at about 10 a.m. That video can be seen on the Global News website HERE. 

So far, the most complete story is being syndicated from the CBC website HERE.


Canadian authorities cannot release the name of the suspect until he is formally charged with a crime. Meanwhile, Vancouver police have stationed officers at all Masonic halls in and around the city.


Thursday, March 25, 2021

'National Treasure' Movie and TV Series Both On Track


by Christopher Hodapp


For over a year now, Disney has been floating the story that they are really and truly finally at work on a sequel to the 2004 box office blockbuster, National Treasure. In fact, the first announcement came within days of reports that Sony Pictures is developing Dan Brown's Masonic-themed novel, The Lost Symbol, into a pilot film in hopes of it becoming an ongoing TV series. 

Yesterday, Disney confirmed that super-producer Jerry Bruckheimer is not only preparing a third National Treasure movie with the original cast that follows the intrepid Gates family, but also a completely different story line starring an all-new cast as a continuing TV series for the Disney+ streaming service.

More info has been released in a story on the comicbook.com website:

Disney+ has given a 10-episode series order to a National Treasure TV series that will be exclusive to the streamer. The series will act as a reimagining of the franchise with a twenty-year-old Latina character named Jess Morales at the center of the story. Jess and her friends will set off on an adventure to uncover her mysterious family history and recover lost treasure, following in the footsteps of Nic Cage's Benjamin Franklin Gates.

 Original National Treasure producer Jerry Bruckheimer is working on the new series, along with original writers Marianne and Cormac Wibberley. Mira Nair (Queen of Katwe) will be directing the new series.

 
This TV series will bring the National Treasure franchise to a new generation, but it isn't the only project in the works from the property. There is still a third National Treasure movie in the works. Writer Chris Bremner was brought on to pen the script early last year.
 
“We’re certainly working on one [National Treasure] for streaming and we’re working on one for the big screen," Bruckheimer explained to Collider during an interview in 2020. "Hopefully, they’ll both come together and we’ll bring you another National Treasure, but they’re both very active….The one for Disney+ is a much younger cast. It’s the same concept but a young cast. The one for theatrical would be the same cast.”

The Deadline website has a few more added details about the TV series:

The project, from the films’ producer Jerry Bruckheimer and original writers Marianne and Cormac Wibberley, is a reimagining of the National Treasure franchise. Written by the Wibberleys and to be directed by Mira Nair (Vanity Fair), the series explores the timely issues of identity, community, historical authorship and patriotism, told from the point of view of Jess Morales, a twenty-year-old DREAMer who, with her diverse group of friends, sets off on the adventure of a lifetime to uncover her mysterious family history and recover lost treasure.

Reimagining? Timely issues? Identity? DREAMer? This promises to be a barren source of amusement. This synopsis reads like it was created by an automated woke computer program specifically to appeal to the wokiary and strictly adhere to the dogma of wokishmentarianism. That's usually a pretty good indicator that we can look forward to being lectured to instead of entertained.

Call me crazy, but something tells me it just won't have the magical combination of elements that made the original film the surprise hit of 2004, and its 2007 sequel even more popular. Part of the success behind the two National Treasure movies was their apolitical treatment of American history and current politics. Both films presumed that audiences pretty uniformly admired the Founders, and shared at least a common enough knowledge of American history to enjoy the movies. Cage's character of Benjamin Franklin Gates was a man in love with, and obsessed by (and, incidentally, named after) the figures of the nation's past, and the movies deliberately steered clear of attempting to take political sides, fire off deliberately polarizing pot shots, or drag contemporary issues into what was simple swashbuckling, escapist entertainment. Sadly, this proposed story line has all the crowd-pleasing potential of the all-girl remake of Ghostbusters.

Anyhow, it goes on:

Jess Morales is taking the torch from Benjamin Gates, the National Treasure films’ protagonist played by Nicolas Cage.

The Wibberleys executive produce with Jerry Bruckheimer Television. ABC Signature is the studio.

Senior-level writers are expected to join the Wibberleys, whose TV credits include LA’s Finest. They have worked with Bruckheimer on several movies, including the first two National Treasure films and G-Force.

The development of the National Treasure series has been on parallel tracks with the long gestating trequel to Jon Turtletaub‘s movie franchise starring Cage, which brought in Chris Bremner as writer in January 2020.

At least the feature film sounds more like it's following in the footsteps of the two prior movies. But Bruckheimer and crew need to get in gear – it's been sixteen and a half years since Nic Cage found the Templar treasure hidden by the Founding Freemasons, and none of the actors, Bruckheimer or director Jon Turtletaub are getting any younger.

Meanwhile, as reported earlier this month, The Lost Symbol pilot has been snapped up by NBC's streaming service, Peacock. It will be the basis for a new, ongoing TV series called Langdon, about Brown's tweedy professor protagonist, Robert Langdon, fresh out of Harvard, and hunting historical, fine art clues and solving mysteries. 

In 2004, National Treasure cashed in on the Dan Brown mania swirling around his hotly anticipated Da Vinci Code sequel, and I've long suspected that the hugely popular Nic Cage movie hijacked some of Brown's story points. The release of The Lost Symbol ultimately didn't happen until 2009. It's sort of funny that these two streaming TV projects have once again managed to be in a race with each other all over again. We at least know that Masons are central to the Langdon story line. Apart from an oblique reference to Albert Pike in National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, only the first NT movie revolved around Masonic clues and story points. We'll have to wait and see if we make it into the threequel.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Grand Lodge of Tennessee Votes for PHA Recognition – Then There Were Six


by Christopher Hodapp

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED 3/25/2021, 10:50 AM: 

Late this afternoon, Facebook lit up with the news that the assembled members of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee have just voted to extend recognition to the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Tennessee at their annual communication in Lebanon, Tennessee.

The MWPHGL of Tennessee already voted at their 2019 annual communication to seek joint recognition with the GL of Tennessee and to accept it should it be offered, with no further vote required. For the purposes of their constitutional requirements, the GL of Tennessee brought the Prince Hall GL's request to the floor two years ago and it had to lay over for a year (which they apparently do with all recognition requests). Because of the COVID shutdowns in 2020, they were unable to adopt final passage of the legislation until this week. 

Upon adoption of the resolution, MW L. Lamont Banks, Grand Master of the MWPHGL of Tennessee, issued an email to his members, saying, "I am happy to report that peace and harmony prevail in the Jurisdiction of Tennessee. We now have mutual recognition!"

With this announcement, the map shrinks to just six remaining states in which joint recognition has not yet been achieved: Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and West Virginia.


Early information is that the two Tennessee grand lodges have adopted joint recognition of each other, but without visitation immediately. Before the high-decibel shouting of "What's the point of that?!" begins, it should be noted that recognition without visitation has been a common preliminary step taken in recent years in other states – it's not unusual. Initial baby steps have been pretty common in states like Texas, Alabama, Florida and elsewhere in the last decade. Essentially, the goal is a transition period during which members in both jurisdictions have time to get used to the idea of sharing Masonic territory in their state, while respecting each other's sovereignty over their own members and lodges.  The transition period is used to formalize visitation rules, examine each others' work, work out questions of honoring transfers or demits, and iron out other details between two grand lodges sharing the same jurisdiction. 

Something most U.S. Masons don't fully comprehend is that, technically, the mainstream GL and the PH GL in any given state both consider each other in the same way they consider a regular but 'foreign' jurisdiction. In the world of Masonic relations and jurisprudence, any visit between Masons in foreign jurisdictions is supposed to go through their respective Grand Secretaries and Grand Masters.

Impatient brethren should bear in mind how long it took just to get to this point in the first place, and simply be supportive and encouraging of their grand officers for the eventual lifting of restrictions. It will come.


Congratulations to brethren from both grand lodges for coming to this decision.